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April 11, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State baseball team used a four-run third inning to erase a 3-0 deficit, on its way to a 6-5 win over Northwestern in Sunday's series finale at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Junior catcher Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) tied a career-high with three hits which extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 games, tied for the seventh longest in school history. The Nittany Lions round out their five-game homestand on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. against in-state rival Pittsburgh. It's THON night with all student ticket proceeds donated to IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
"Every game means so much," said head coach Robbie Wine. "You're down two [games], and you could roll over, but our guys kept battling. It's a key win. It's going to show up in the end."
Heath led Penn State offensively, finishing 3-for-3 with a double to improve his season average to a team-best .373. Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to six games. The freshman has 10 hits in that span, including four multi-hit games to up his season-total to eight.
Redshirt freshman Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) also extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a 1-for-3 effort and two RBI. Sophomore Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) chipped in with a hit and RBI to up his on-base streak to 21 straight games. Sophomore Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) had a big two-run single to drive in Penn State's third and fourth runs in while sophomore Sean Deegan (Readington) and junior Heath Johnson (Alamagordo, N.M.) each recorded a hit as well.
Freshman John Walter (Haddonfield, N.J.) was solid in his fifth start of the season, allowing four earned runs with five strikeouts. Fellow freshman Neal Herring (West Chester, Pa.) came on in relief, and blanked the Wildcats through 1.1 hitless innings. Junior Jesse Alfreno (Grove City, Pa.) followed with a stellar performance of his own, blanking the Wildcats in 1.2 innings of work. Redshirt senior David Lutz (West Chester, Pa.) got the last out of the eighth inning in his 21st appearance of the season and eighth in as many games. Johnson took the hill in the ninth and took care of business for his first-career save, ending the game by stabbing a grounder and making the easy toss to first.
In total, the Penn State bullpen tossed 4.1 scoreless innings on only two hits.
"The bullpen coming in and doing what they did was very, very important," said Wine. "We juggled some things around with Johnson and DeBernardis; we're learning new roles right now."
Walter began his outing strong with a 1-2-3 first inning. The right-hander fielded a grounder from the Wildcats' leadoff man for the game's first out, and notched his first two strikeouts of the game in succession to end a quick top of the first.
The second inning didn't go quite so smoothly for Walter and the Lions. After a leadoff double, a single, walk, two wild pitches and an error resulted in three Wildcat runs.
Penn State answered with four in the bottom of the third inning to take a 4-3 advantage after three full. Snyder hit a one-out single up the middle then Deegan singled to right-center field. A Northwestern fielding error on the play scored Snyder while advancing Deegan to second. Johnson followed with an infield single, then DeBernardis singled up the middle to score Deegan. A Heath walk loaded the bases for Steranka, who connected up the middle to score Johnson and DeBernardis for the Lions' first lead of the game.
Two walks, two singles, and a hit batter provided two runs for the Wildcats in the top of the fifth inning, as they suddenly found themselves back on top, 5-4. Penn State answered in the bottom however, as DeBernardis reached on an error and moved to third on a Heath double to right-center field. Junior Michael Glantz (Marietta, Ga.) followed with a walk to load the bases for Searer, who hit a sacrifice fly to center field to plate DeBernardis.
With the score still 5-5, Penn State broke the tie in the bottom of the seventh inning. After a Heath single, Steranka reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild throw to first base. Glantz was hit by a pitch, putting two runners on. Searer then came up with a two-out single to score Steranka for the 6-5 advantage. That is where the score would stand, as the Lions managed to keep Northwestern off the board for its 13th victory of the season and second in Big Ten play.
The Nittany Lions return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for a midweek game against Pittsburgh this Tuesday, April 13th. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. Purchase your tickets today!
Season and individual game tickets are now available can be purchased online or over the phone. Please call 1-877-997-7453 or (814) 272-1711, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. for more information. Fans can also direct any additional questions or comments via phone, or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Baseball camp information is now available. Call the Sports Camp Office at (814) 865-0561 or email them at SportCampInfo@outreach.psu.edu for more information.
Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.